Our History

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council formed as a merger of ProArts and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance in 2005.

Initially a grassroots collaboration of arts organizations committed to driving shared resources and political will, the Arts Council was created from a recognized need of the arts community to advance its shared interests and growth.

Over the past 17 years, the Arts Council has expanded to offer an array of services and resources to help arts organizations build their foundation and has served as the region's authority on arts and culture for the political and business sectors. We have cultivated important relationships with city, state, and federal partners to ensure support for the region's creative sector as a contributing industry.

Our Community Impact

90 Painted Chairs visit Pittsburgh

2019-2020: 90 Painted Chairs campaign with VisitPittsburgh

Anyone who has lived in Pittsburgh recognizes the meaning of a seemingly innocuous chair on the side of the street – it's a claimed parking spot. In spring of 2019, the Arts Council joined VisitPITTSBURGH in its Pull Up a Chair campaign, raising awareness of Pittsburgh as a major travel destination. As part of this campaign, Pittsburgh-area artists were invited to reimagine more than 90 folding chairs that were later sold at auction.

Our artist community did not disappoint. Chair design inspiration ranged from well-known Pittsburgh staples like Andy Warhol, the incline and three rivers, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, to entirely unique designs featuring fabrics, nails, paintings, flowers, animals, spray paint and much more.

In total, the 90 Painted Chair campaign raised more than $17,000 for our Teaching Artist Initiative programming.

You can still view the artfully curated and very Pittsburgh chair collection on VisitPITTSBURGH’s website.

2019 Governor's Awards for the Arts

2019: Governor’s Awards for the Arts

The commonwealth honors artists, creatives, and arts leaders during its annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts, hosted in a different city each year. The Arts Council lobbied for the awards to be held in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1997. In September of 2019, artists, arts leaders, politicians, and arts supporters statewide joined the Arts Council at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center for the 2019 awards ceremony, and it did not disappoint.

Featuring pre-ceremony performances by DJ Nate Tha Barber, the Funky Fly Project, and Hill Dance Academy Theatre, guests gathered to honor the 2019 award honorees including Vanessa German (Artist of the Year), Roger Humphries, Sr. and Joe Negri (Lifetime Achievement in the Arts), Rock Lititz (Creative Industries Award), and Mary Brenholts (Arts Leadership & Service).

Pittsburgh in London Exhibition in 2019

2019: Pittsburgh Art on the Bank in London

What do London and Pittsburgh have in common? A nonstop flight via British Airways and the Pittsburgh International Airport!

As our city was beginning to market the new direct flights from Pittsburgh to London, the Arts Council joined its partners at VisitPITTSBURGH, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, the Office of Public Art, and Pittsburgh International Airport Arts and Culture Department to create an art exhibition opportunity on London’s South Bank featuring Pittsburgh artists.

“Pittsburgh Art on the Bank” ran June 2-9, 2019, in London and featured artists Alisha Wormsley, Bill Shannon, Crystal Latimer, Ed Piskor, Felix De La Concha, Mia Tarducci, Peter Paul Rubens, Teenie Harris, Terry Boyd, Thad Mosley, Tina Williams Brewer, and Yona Harvey.

Cover of the 2018 Racial Equity and Arts Funding report by the Arts Council

2018: Racial Equity and Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh

This groundbreaking research report focused on regional arts funding disparities based on race. The report revealed a stark contrast between funding for white-majority organizations and BIPOC organizations, with key findings including disparities in the number of arts grants, total amounts of funds, and the average amount of grant dollars received. "Racial Equity and Arts Funding in Greater Pittsburgh" offered sets of recommendations for foundations, public arts agencies, and arts organizations to act upon that address funders’ decision-making processes as well as initiatives that policy makers could collectively adopt.

2013: Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Annual Convention

Americans for the Arts is one of the leading advocacy, research, and professional development organizations for the arts community, hosting its Annual Convention in various cities nationwide for the last 60 years. The Arts Council was honored to host the 2013 Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, showcasing the city’s newly burgeoning Cultural District and ARTventure tours. Thousands of arts leaders from around the country gathered in Pittsburgh to learn and network, while exploring Pittsburgh’s diverse arts scene.

Artists' Health & Housing Fair for the Community
Artists' Health & Housing Fair for the Community. Art by Lizzee Solomon.

2013: Health & Housing (HE-HO) Fair for Artists

The Health & Housing (HE-HO) Fair for Artists was the Arts Council’s first event that focused solely on health and housing issues of its artist community. Through HE-HO, artists and their families received free health screenings, educational resources, home-buying and fair housing workshops, and access to mortgage experts. HE-HO also prepared our community of artists and their families for the then new Affordable Care Act, providing access to partners from Highmark. You can still access the free HE-HO toolkit by filling out a form with the Creative Exchange program here.

2011-2014: Arts Day of Giving Raises $1.8 million in 24 Hours

What can be described as nothing more than an outpouring of civic pride and a recognition of the importance of arts and culture to our communities, the Arts Day of Giving was a 24-hour giving day hosted by the Arts Council in collaboration with The Pittsburgh Foundation and generous funding from The Heinz Endowments and others. The Arts Day of Giving was hosted for several years, but 2011 was a particularly incredible year of giving. Public contributions totaled $1,238,923 for area arts organizations, not to mention contributions from the Endowments and other foundations.